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Magpie and Insect

Posted by Dave Bull at 9:43 PM, August 1, 2005 [Permalink]

So how well are you doing at the little game of predicting what is coming up next in this Treasure Chest series? Are you confused by what may seem to be a 'random' group of prints, or are you enjoying the 'eclectic' selection?

For the first (but not last) time in this set, we have a design by a non-Japanese artist. Dating from about 1910, this is the work of Jules Chadel, a member of 'Les Amis de l'Art Japonais', a group of French artists active around the turn of the previous century, a time when Japanese art was having an enormous influence on European design.

That influence is well-known and documented, but for the most part, the effects were on the content of the art produced. There were though, a few artists influenced also by the Japanese techniques, and Chadel was one of these. The colours on this print of his were water-based pigments applied to the wood with a brush, in contrast to the oil-based inks used for most western wood-block work. I have no idea how he learned the methods of doing this; perhaps he had some contact with the group of English printmakers who were learning from the Japanese expatriate Yoshijiro Urushibara at about this time, or perhaps he was a private experimenter, studying and learning from the Japanese prints that were flooding Europe just then.

It is a fact of quite some sadness for me that these experiments by European artists did not result in the water-based printmaking technology becoming firmly established in the west. The English did more with it than others, but they too gave it up in favour of the oil-based methods.

I myself believe that one of the main reasons for this is that until one has accumulated a lot of experience, it can be difficult to produce consistent results - large batches of identical prints - with the Japanese technique, something fairly straightforward when using oil-based inks and a press.

Looking at the bright side though, I guess this is one of the main reasons why I don't have much 'competition'!

Monday, August 1, 2005

(Here's the print in context in the Treasure Chest series.)


Following comment posted by: Joanne Blazek on August 5, 2005 9:17 AM

David, So far this is the winner! The movement in the posture
and stance of the Magpie and the tension between insect and
bird, in the drama that is about to unfold, is wonderful. Beside
the composition, the color has the weight and impact to
successfully tell the story. Thank You
Have you considered the work of Kamisakka Sekka?
Most famous is his 2 volume set of prints "World of Things"
. Tokyo 1981. His interest was in the revival of the
Rimpa school of design. There are many to enjoy and choose
from. Joanne Blazek Cleveland Ohio

Following comment posted by: Dave on August 5, 2005 9:28 AM

Yes, there was a copy of the Sekka book on eBay just a short time ago, but ... went too high ... sigh ... Who are all those people out there, buying all these books and keeping them away from people like me, who really want to use them!?? :-)

Following comment posted by: Bette Wappner on November 11, 2005 11:40 AM

Viewing this I remain optimistic in that the crow might already have a full stomach and is just watching that bee! But one thing it does capture is the impermanence of life. Nice style of art and printing.

Following comment posted by: Darrel C. Karl on October 29, 2013 8:19 AM

Chadel did know Urushibara, although I don't know when they first met. Urushibara printed blocks carved by Chadel for a book published in 1927, so they had certainly met by that point (and probably many years earlier).

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